Athanasius (about 296 – 373) was one of the giants of Christian history because of his part in defining the Trinity. When he was told that everybody was denying the Deity of Christ, he said, "I, Athanasius, against the world." Athanasius contra mundum became a proverbial expression.
As Joshua faced the task of leading God's people in the Promised Land, he was admonished four times to "be strong and of good courage," or "be strong and very courageous" (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9, and 18). "Courage" and "courageous" both mean "be steadfastly minded, strong." Webster dictionary defines "courage" as "the attitude or response of facing and dealing with anything recognized as dangerous, difficult, or painful, instead of withdrawing from it." The late John Wayne stated, "Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway."
A slavery abolitionist of the 19th century, Wendell Phillips, made an interesting observation. He noted that it is easy to be brave when all are behind you and agree with you. In Genesis 6:9, it is recorded, "Noah walked with God." This meant courage and independence, because no one else was walking that way. When a man walks with God, it means that he cannot walk with any of his fellows who are going in the opposite direction. Dr. Griffith–Thomas wrote, "What a splendid figure this man makes, a picture of solitary goodness! He was the one saint of his day. It is possible, therefore, to be good even though we have to stand alone."
Someone declared, "Few things instill more courage than a good conscience toward God." When John Knox was standing for his godly principles against Queen Mary, she demanded whether he thought it right that the authority of rulers should be resisted. His answer was, "If princes exceed their bounds, madam, they may be resisted and even deposed."
In 2 Chronicles 32:7, Hezekiah, when facing the insurmountable odds of the wicked, was extorted to "Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed." The German pastor, Martin Niemoeller, broke ranks with other pastors and defiantly spoke out against the atrocities of Nazi-crazy Germany. He was arrested and placed in a concentration camp, being called, "Hitler's personal prisoner." For two years he was in solitary confinement. On various occasions he was offered his freedom – at a price. The price was to preach only as he was told. He steadfastly refused. A chaplain visited him in his detention, and asked Niemoeller, "Why are you here?" Dr. Niemoeller answered, "Why are you not here?"
"It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare" (Mark Twain).